Monday 27 June 2022 (UAE)

Jobs in Dubai UAE

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Dubai jobs and employment

Dubai has started to resume its growth after the financial crisis in 2008, and with the winning of the Dubai 2020 Expo bid might once again be the fastest growing city in the world, or at least in the emirate of Dubai. It follows then that there is a large number of jobs in Dubai waiting for workers from all countries and professions. For some it is a fantastic experience with an enjoyable lifestyle, good professional development and an opportunity to save (or spend) some extra tax-free cash. But as they say, Caveat Emptor ...

Best way to find a job in Dubai

  1. Headhunted - the best way if you're in demand. Employers come to you. This generally only works for professions where you are known to a number of employers or headhunters, and are top of the class in your job. If you're in this category it is unlikely you are even going to be reading this page, in other words, if you are reading this, you are probably not headhunter material. Go to step 2, or change your profession.
  2. Networking - know someone who is in a position to give you a job and ask them. The closer you are to them, the higher the chances they'll give you a job. This doesn't work so well when there is a stringent testing and recruiting process.
  3. Apply directly to a company you want to work for. Either send an email, phone, or visit. Find their website, and search for a careers or vacancies section - large firms should have comprehensive information. Adjust your approach depending on the type of job, how large the company is. If you are going to visit them in person, have a shower first, put on some professional looking clothes, tidy your hair, and bring a copy of your CV. If you send an email, write the application letter as your email. Don't attach it as a separate document, and don't send just your CV without any letter. The internet makes it easy to search for a company, or a list of companies, with contact details and email addresses. Annoying for the company receiving a deluge of random job applications, so if you do this, make sure your email stands out - in a good way. Don't just spam your CV to 100 addresses at once, write a personal email and send each one individually - make it look like you are interested in working for that company, not just looking for a pay packet.
  4. Walk-in interview days. Usually advertised in newspapers or sometimes online. At least you're fairly certain of getting some face-to-face time with a company recruiter, however it is likely to be brief, and the initial impression counts for a lot. Events like this are popular and busy so as a first step, a recruiter is more likely to be looking for reasons to dismiss or delete the majority of applicants. Have a shower, dress professionally, do your hair, bring your CV, arrive early. Research the company and the position, be prepared for questions about both. You might only get one shot at answering a question and if you mess up, you're out.

End of the best ways. Now middle of the road ways.

  1. Recruitment agencies - possibly a worthwhile approach for specialists, professionals, senior management jobs. Generally a lazy way to find a job since in theory you fill out a form, submit a CV, and somone else does all the work for you. In practice you are competing with all the other lazy job seekers so the supply pool for employers is enormous, and not only do you have to be something special for them to pick you, they have to discover your details amongst all the others. Sometimes this works for positions where a company has a large demand for similar posts, but supply usually still far exceeds demand. Whatever you think of this method, walk away from any agency that requests money for any reason, unless it's for professional development reasons (and even then, be wary of scams and manipulation). There are enough legitimate agencies out there, and enough other ways to find a job if you're prepared to make an effort, that you don't need to pay an agency. Another point against this method is that if a company is using a recruitment agency, that can mean they are either too lazy to do the recruiting themselves, or worse, they are a bad enough company to work for that they can't find suitable applicants when they do try recruiting themselves. This is not always the case. For a small company without a human resources department it makes sense that they would use a recruitment organisation to find new employees. Find those companies and send them a CV before they start doing that, and you'll be saving them time and money, making yourself popular with them.
  2. Newspaper classified ads - not great for similar reasons as using recruitment agencies, but at least usually you know the jobs are real. The Gulf News has a separate section almost every day (minimal listings on Fridays) with job listings including many from the various job agencies, and is the best newspaper to get for job hunting, at least in terms of quantity of vacancies posted. The Khaleej Times also has a situations vacant section.
  3. Forum and website classified ad sections. If a forum or website is reputable and has a classified ad section, then it can be worthwhile, especially if the website is focused on some sort of specialist discussion. For example a petrolhead discussion forum advertising a car mechanic job. A popular website for classified ads, with a better reputation than most online sources, is (but watch out, they are not immune to scams).

The worst ways to find a job in Dubai

  1. Recruitment agencies that charge money to applicants.
  2. Online job websites that aggregate job advertisements from newspapers and other sources. They are more likely to collect your details for spamming or worse, than to actually help you find a job. Also they get clogged up with out of date or expired job ads.
  3. Newspaper classified ads - if a company is advertising because people don't want to work for them (abusive employers, low salaries, unpleasant working conditions, promises not delivered, etc). Classified ads attract a large number of applicants but the best jobs and best employers do not use this method. The best employers rarely need to use an outside agency to help them - applicants know who they are and find them. If you want a good job with a good employer, you're going to have to put in some effort and find them too.

Caveat Emptor when looking for jobs in Dubai ...

If you found this page because you're looking for the recruitment agency called "Jobs in Dubai" (apparently based in Canada), see the discussion about It has a mixed reputation.

Finding a job in Dubai from overseas

Types of Jobs and Salaries in Dubai

Recruitment Agencies and Consultants in Dubai

Writing a CV or Resumé

Work Visas (or Work Permits) in the UAE

Note that the words 'permit' and 'visa' are often mixed up. What's important to remember is that you need two separate permissions. One for working in Dubai and one for living in Dubai. The permission to stay or live in Dubai is what's stamped in your passport (the visa), and the permission to work is a labor card (the permit - is a separate document).

Anyone working in a job in Dubai (and the UAE) who is not a UAE citizen (or GCC national) must have a work permit (work visa, labour card) (three names often used for the same thing, although "work visa" is easily confused with "employment visa" which is an entry visa, not a work permit). This is not the same as a residence visa which is stamped in your passport. Unless you are setting up your own company, or you happen to be the PRO for your company, someone else in the company should arrange the work permit for you. The company is responsible for all costs related to the work permit and residence visa. Efficient companies should get your work and residence permits organised in a matter of a couple of weeks in Dubai if all paperwork is in order (up to a month in other emirates). But it is not unusual to wait weeks or even months for visas to be arranged. If the delay stretches beyond a month, and is not due to a documentation or nationality issue, it could be because your company is reluctant to get the visas processed in case you are dismissed during your probationary period.

Sponsorship in the UAE

Working Without a Work Permit

UAE Labor Contracts, Labour Law, Probation Periods

When applying for, or accepting a job in Dubai, you should not pay any fees for any part of the job application, work permit, or visa application process. According to UAE law, the employer is responsible for all visa costs, and UAE job agencies are not supposed to ask applicants for job search fees, although many do. If any UAE job agency asks you for visa fees however, that should set off warning bells.

Maternity leave in Dubai and UAE

See forum discussion topic about maternity leave in the UAE for more information.

Non-payment of wages and salaries

Non or delayed payment of salaries is an issue that is rarely resolved in favor of the employee. Management and employers in Dubai are well aware of the poor reputation some companies and sectors have for not paying their workers. So if you end up in a situation where salary is not paid, and the company does not obviously do their utmost to rapidly rectify that (ignore what they say, it's what they do that is important), then you have, unfortunately, probably walked into a job in Dubai which is not going to turn out very well for you.

Working Conditions and Labour Unions in the UAE

During 2005 there was some unrest amongst the large number of construction workers in Dubai, with some protests (especially over unpaid salaries) and investigations resulting in Dubai gaining less desirable publicity in the international media. This may have prompted some changes in the treatment of the working class - albeit slowly. Present law says that unions are illegal although there is talk of changing this. However, apparently only UAE nationals will be allowed to form unions. Ongoing discussions in 2006 with the ILO (International Labour Organisation) and with the USA regarding a Free Trade Agreement have also resulted in closer scrutiny of various employment issues and working conditions.

Passports and companies keeping your passport

A large number of employers keep expat employee passports in the UAE despite it being illegal. Save yourself a lot of bother and before you sign on the dotted line, ask about the company policy on keeping passports. If they say they don't, assume they are lying until you can verify independently that they are not. If they say they do, then at least you know before accepting a job, and can decide whether to continue with the process or try to find a different employer.

Residency and Employment Bans

Hours of Work and Holidays

Most jobs in Dubai are either 5 days, 5 and a half, or 6 days per week. Make sure you know before signing. A number of people have arrived to find themselves unexpectedly working more than five days per week. The working week changed from Saturday - Wednesday to Sunday - Thursday for the public sector in September 2006. The private sector working week varies but mostly follows the government/public sector, and Friday is a common holiday or day off for all sectors.

Public holidays come in two varieties. The fixed dates - for example New Year on 01 January. And the changing ones for example Eid Al Ahda - the actual days are not announced until shortly before the holiday starts which depends on moon sightings.

Most jobs in Dubai will also give you about 4 weeks paid vacation time per year in addition to the public holidays.

If a ruler dies (either in the UAE or another Arabic country) it is common for the public sector to close for several days for mourning. The private sector shuts down also but not usually for as long. It is inappropriate to refer to these periods as holidays but employees are entitled to be paid for those days when they're not working.

What to Wear - Clothes in Dubai

Dress conservatively - for office jobs in Dubai, men should wear a tie (and the usual accoutrements) but a jacket is not so common. Companies will usually make it clear if they have very conservative dress expectations of women, otherwise women can wear much the same as in a comparable job in a western country (unless you have what would be regarded as extreme or unusual tastes in clothing). If working in the public sector, expect to dress more conservatively.

Natural fibers are regarded as more suitable for the hot Dubai climate but remember that inside the office at your job, the air-conditioning can be quite cool.


Arabic is the offical language of Dubai but English is the common denominator amongst the many different nationalities working in jobs in Dubai, at least in the private sector. If there is a language requirement other than English, that should be made clear to you before you accept a job in Dubai. It's useful to be able to speak Arabic but not essential for most jobs. Most expatriates speak very little, and read even less Arabic, even after working in Dubai for many years.

Straight and Split Shifts

For some companies the working day is split in two and employees work something like 0800-1300 and then again from 1600-1900. More and more companies in Dubai are following a straight shift where employees work from 0800-1700 or 0900-1800 or similar.

Minimum working age in Dubai

Maximum age limit for jobs in Dubai - retirement age in the UAE

From September 2005, expatriates can renew their labour cards up to the age of 65 (or 70 for a selected list of professions). The renewal is yearly instead of three-yearly over the age of 60. Previously the age limit was 60, or 65 for the following professions: engineers, doctors, university professors, accountants and auditors, laboratory and electronic equipment technicians, specialists in privately-owned oil companies, specialists in the media, lawyers, translators, and consultants in all fields or other professions agreed on by the undersecretary of labour or the assistant undersecretary.

Free zone areas in Dubai and the UAE might have different rules about the retirement age or maximum working age for employees under a free zone company sponsorship.

Student and part-time jobs in Dubai

In many countries it is common for students at school and university or college to try and find part-time or temporary work. However, for expat students, this is technically not possible since a student visa does not entitle you to work. In practice though, there are odd jobs around that need doing - tutoring is one possibility. Students taking on any such employment should realise they have no legal protection if they have a complaint against their employer (but their employer will be in trouble too), and it is possible to get in trouble with the authorities - a fine and deportation is more likely than a jail sentence if caught.

Students working as a trainee at companies in jobs related to their studies, or doing an internship, are not regarded as employees and so still don't have any rights under the labour law. Even if they get financial compensation (and it would be wise not to draw attention to that).

The Khaleej Times 28 December 2007 reported that a ministerial decision was issued by the Minister of Labour, Dr Al Kaabi, to allow 15-18 year old expat residents to be employed in light work (stacking groceries for example, but not building roads). They could either get a 6 month temporary work permit or permanent labour card, and work part-time or full-time, but not over-time. It is not clear at this stage if expats with student visas can take advantage of this new rule, and probably not relevant since students with student visas are likely to be over 18 and excluded anyway (students under 18 are usually on their parents' sponsorship).

The same report also mentioned an earlier labour ministry decision that would allow students to take up paid employment during summer vacation time, but further details were not given, and MOL website does not clarify this information.

Emirati students can work part-time, full-time, and during holidays since Emirati nationals don't need work permits or residency visas. Subject to any restrictions such as age limits.

Contact the Ministry of Labour

Toll free tel 800665 in the UAE, or see the Labour Department UAE list of contact numbers.

Last update Tuesday 24-Jun-2014
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